With a bit of help from Wallace and Gromit….

Wallace is one of the world’s greatest inventors (yes, John Logie Baird and that television thing were pretty cool, and Alexander Graham Bell did a great job with the telephone too)….

But Wallace has something they didn’t – he has Gromit.

Gromit supports him through the tough times, helps him out with new product development and looks out for him.

He helps him fine-tune his inventions and is a willing test subject (sometimes) through their development to their launch.

We could all do with a Gromit in our lives, but we’re not all as lucky as Wallace, so how can the rest of us move our new products forward to market?

Step 1: Define your target audience – who is your potential customer? Is it Wendolene from the Wool Shop? Who will buy your product? Think about their age, where they live, their family, their education.

For this example let’s say you’re targeting first-time mums looking for a solution to their sleep deprivation (so definitely not Wendolene).

Step 2: How can you tell them about your launch? List ways to get in touch with those mums – where do they hang out? The local library, health centre, children’s play centre, swimming pool, leisure centre, supermarket – print some posters and put them in these places, see if you can set up a stand on a weekday morning.

Do you have a database of previous customers that fit your profile? Email them, invite them to the launch.

Step 3: When you’ve got your list of places and people, work on putting together your communication. A postcard, an email, a poster. Where possible, personalise the message. Whatever promotional method you use, ensure the colours, fonts and images fit with your brand. Give plenty of ways for people to get in touch with you (mobile, email, telephone, website) to confirm their attendance or find out more about the event.

PS Don’t forget to also invite the press so they can come along and cover it for your local newspaper.

Step 4: Offer an incentive. You have your list of places to get the message out to your audience, and your chosen method of communication.

Now you need a reason for them to come.

Offer a gift for the first 50 through the door (ensure the freebie is branded with your details, and is likely to be used by your customers – perhaps a notebook, business card holder, pencil case, etc.) plus a goodie bag containing a voucher and promotional leaflets.

Step 5: Plan the launch itself. Keep your customer in mind – when is it most convenient for them?  Lunchtime?  Early evening?  For mums of young children, mid-morning may be best (before lunchtime feeds and naps, and while baby isn’t too tired and grumpy).

Offer refreshments that your audience will love – tea and scones with cream and jam (who doesn’t love that?) or fruit juice with finger food.  Offer something for the little ones to play with so it’s easy for mums to stay a while.

Step 6: Put together the goodie bags. You can’t have a launch without taking full advantage of the promotional opportunities it presents.  You want your potential customers to remember you and your business – get some bags printed with your logo, pop in a leaflet, a discount voucher, business card, a thank you note for coming, plus something of value to your customers

  • A guide to settling baby into a routine
  • A list of free events in the local area that parents and baby might enjoy
  • Tips on introducing solids, with some simple recipes for first foods
  • A list of local companies offering special offers and freebies to new mums – you could get together with other complimentary businesses in your local area and help each other out (more on affiliate marketing at another time)

Step 7: Enjoy it (but remember to maximise the positive publicity).  Chat to your guests, ask for their feedback on your product, book a photographer to take photos during the event, then send them to the local papers with a press release.

Step 8:  Follow up with everyone who comes (and those who don’t).  Have a guest book by the door and collect guests’ details as they arrive or leave – cross reference the completed book with your list of expected attendees and write to everyone who came, thanking them and including a prompt to act now and buy your product (again, remind them about the time sensitive voucher, or the current special offer).  Also contact anyone who didn’t come and invite them to get in touch to receive their own goodie bag.

Whatever product or service you’re launching, keep focused on your customer and what they would find useful, enjoyable.

Imagine you’ve got your own Gromit.  What would he suggest you do for your launch?  A nice platter of cracking cheese for the first 20 guests?  What pitfalls would he help you avoid?

So, what do you find most effective when launching a new product or range?  And what do you wish you could do better? Share in the comments below.